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Archive for April, 2016

Complete Acceptance

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” I John 4:11 (NIV)

 

I think I have a new favorite show: Fixer Upper.  Our family enjoys watching HGTV and the variety of shows they feature.  Chip and Joanne, though, have become my favorite.  He is one crazy guy and while he would drive me crazy, Joanne loves him fiercely.  You can tell that even when he is making silly comments or doing crazy stunts, she never once even pretends to roll her eyes… she instead will find something to compliment him about.

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For example, she was trying to show her vision for the backyard to a couple who had hired them to renovate their house.  Chip was engaged initially, but soon a forgotten monkey bar set stole his attention and he was off, practicing gymnastics. Joanne could have berated him, could have even just said, “Hey, Chip – that wasn’t very nice.  I was trying to show our clients my vision and you distracted us.”  Nope.  She did neither.  Instead she joked around with him about the proper way to stick his landing because it was supposed to go like this… and then proceeded to show him with her hands the dramatic flare.  Another time he chose to race a client up some stairs and while they “tied,” she was quick to point out to him his wonderful form.  Always complimenting.  Always honoring.

That’s when it hit me… always accepting every single part of him for who he is.  Not trying to change him.  Not showing disgust or disapproval for the parts that aren’t as “mature” as the other parts, whatever that definition really means.  Loving and accepting all of him.

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We just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary, and I want to be that woman for my husband. I want my husband to know that I love all of him.  I realized that to truly love someone else means to accept every nuance of their personality.  Not putting up with.  Not merely tolerating with an eye roll here or there.  But complete acceptance of the other person.

I think God gives the blessing of marriage and family to help us glimpse a smidgen of the unconditional love He has for each of us.  While I will never be able to perfectly love Bill, because I’m human and make mistakes, God will always perfectly love each of His children the same.  While I can ask God each day to help me love unconditionally, I will fall short at times.  He is truly the only One who can complete accept each of us, seeing our mistakes through the lens of Jesus’ forgiveness.

I always knew I enjoyed watching Fixer Upper and the fabulous makeovers they perform for their clients.  However, the best part of watching that show is how they don’t try to “makeover” each other but instead encourage each other’s dreams, passions, gifts and talents.

I pray that my husband feels my complete acceptance for him, just the way he is.  He’s amazing, talented, funny, honest, hardworking, and most of all loves our Father with his whole heart.  I’m blessed to have been married to him for 17 years and I’m looking forward to many more years sharing life with him… loving every minute of it!

 

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Here’s a Happy Birthday shout out to my amazing husband who is also my best friend. I love you!

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

 

 

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Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

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From Sunday, April 24th through Wednesday, April 27th

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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

 

I would be lying if I said that once God got me away from the abuse physically that all wounds were healed and I was ready to find that special someone He had planned for my life.  It took a great Christian counselor and many years of replacing the lies I had believed with God’s truths.

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In the meantime, God restores that which is lost when we seek His way.  My sister, who was an essential part of helping me break free from the abuse, later introduced me to an amazing guy through one of her coworkers.  We were set up on a “blind” date that she and her husband and his best friend joined us on.  Because I trusted her, I was able to trust him… and a great friendship developed.  I’ve joked before that in the beginning it was as though I was dating Bill and his best friend because the three of us were inseparable.  It was a great time for me to see what a healthy relationship looks like and I enjoyed watching Bill with his family.  He treated them with respect and his mother with love.

So when I say that Biblical submission brings freedom, I speak from the wisdom of having experienced both what Biblical submission is… and what it is not.  I’m not putting my husband on a pedestal.  He isn’t perfect but thank goodness because neither am I!  However, I do have the utmost trust in him, though, because I know that whatever decisions he makes, he does out of love for our family.

I guess I could say that I’m a little happy I had to struggle with submitting a few weeks ago because it shows me two things.  That spunk that I used to have but was “abused” out of me is now back to an extent.  I’m breaking free from the lies I allowed the enemy to pour into me for years.  However, more importantly, I’m glad that spunk is coming back because it forced me to answer God’s question of: “Are you going to do it My way or continue to try it your way?”

I want to do it God’s way… all the way.  God calls us, as Christian women, to Biblically submit to our husbands regardless of where they are spiritually.  God doesn’t call us to continue in a life of abuse and if that is where you find yourself, please seek out a godly church and ask for help.  I’m not qualified to help you break free but there are many professionals out there with the skills and resources that can help.

But, if you aren’t in an abusive relationship, you just don’t trust your husband, want to let him be in control, or whatever the issue… I can speak truthfully that Biblical submission brings freedom… a freedom that won’t be there if you continue to want to hold onto some of the control.  God doesn’t give us commands in the Bible to restrict us… rather they are there to give us life more abundantly.  For me and my house, I don’t want it any other way.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

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Available Now:

Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

FREE ON AMAZON

Choosing Grace Kindle cover

From Sunday, April 24th through Wednesday, April 27th

Please share this offer with others

 

You can still buy the paperback at the low price of $5.97 for those who don’t have access to a Kindle

 

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“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lordmake me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

 

Before you tune out the previous three blogs as coming from someone who has lived in a fairytale her whole life, let me assure you I haven’t.  While I have an amazing husband and wonderful kids, I lived under a different kind of submission for two years that was anything but Biblical… it was called abuse.

I was in college but extremely naïve.  I truly wanted to serve God and wanted to find a boyfriend who also loved God, so I sought after Christian friends.  I was introduced to someone in a Bible-believing group, and even though initially I didn’t want to go out with him, I was too polite to say no.  In hindsight, I think it might have been the Holy Spirit warning me, but I didn’t realize it then.

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The control started out inconsistently at first, and by the time I started to think maybe I should break up, I had been isolated from most of my friends.  As I explained previously, there was a spunky side to me which didn’t like to be controlled.  However, when that flared up with him, trouble ensued until I was left thinking, “What just happened here?”  By then, though, my self esteem had hit rock bottom and I obediently believed that I was worthless, no one else would want me, and he was as good as it was going to get.

However, thanks to many prayers from my family and friends, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t be quiet.  I couldn’t rest until I listened, so I got up the nerve to break up with him the first time… but went back to him for the same reason I said yes to his first date.  I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and he was crying and sorry and… I broke up with him the second time, but went back to him again because I truly did believe no one else would want me.  His constant belittling had reached my inner core.

God is bigger than the enemy’s lies, though, and when His people pray, He answers.  I broke up with him a third time and this time, God used some pretty miraculous circumstances to get me far enough away that I could start to see the truth, God’s truth.

However, as is the case with most abuse situations, he wasn’t ready to let go that easily.  What followed was up to a year of stalking, being on guard, and feeling even worse because I was possibly putting my family in danger as well if he decided to take it to the next level.  God, in His graciousness, though, protected us and eventually he realized I wasn’t coming back.  I lost track of him and that chapter of my life was complete.

Come back next time as I tell how I went from what I experienced above to the life-giving submission of a godly marriage.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

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“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’”

Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

 

Remember how during Submission – Part I, I stated, “If you want to know where you stand in your relationship with your Heavenly Father, take a good look at your relationships with those you love the most here on earth?”  I believe this is the true litmus test of whether or not you trust your Father, have control issues, or are truly surrendered to His ways.

Right after I made the choice to submit completely to my husband, not only did God bless our marriage, but He reaffirmed to me the choice was about more than just my relationship with my husband.  It was about my relationship with Him.

Every time I hear the song Just Be Held on the radio by Casting Crowns, I can’t help but cry. At first I was wondering why God would want me to stop holding on and just be held… and then I realized just like with submitting to my husband, He wants me to fully submit to Him.  He can work much better when I stop holding on, trying to control the situation or fight the situation or take care of the situation and instead let Him have complete control.  When I finally realized how much easier life is when I give Him complete control and pray, with trust, that His way is the perfect way, then things start moving.  Divine appointments occur. Miracles take place.

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That, my friends, is where I want to be.  In the middle of God’s will for my life.  Just like my husband takes his job of protector very seriously in our family, asking for wisdom from our Father before making decisions, God takes the role of Protector, Provider, Healer, Redeemer and the Good Shepherd to name but a very few of His roles very seriously also.  However, just like my husband doesn’t force his way on me, even though he was given all authority to do so, my Heavenly Father will not force His way on me either.  He gives me a choice to willingly submit and surrender my will before taking over and working miracles in my life that He had patiently been waiting to perform as soon as I got out of the way.

Submission is not bondage.  Submission is not slavery.  Biblical submission is not a four-letter word in my house.  Submission is freedom… peace… based on trust… God’s will for families everywhere.

I’m so thankful God loves me enough that He challenged my assumption that I was a submissive wife a few months ago.  I’m so glad He loves our family enough to help me get myself out of the way so that Bill can do what he does best… lead our family with integrity, faith, and the responsibility God appointed to him.  For that, I respect my husband deeply and gladly submit.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

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“In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)

 

I talked last time about how I thought I was a submissive wife… except when it came to two areas in my life that I passively declared off limits to anyone else’s control.

However, God loves our family too much to keep letting me sabotage our marriage because of an unwillingness to give up control in those two areas.  He used Ms. Cassidy’s book, The Peaceful Wife, my love for Him and for my husband, and the fact I truly desire to be a submissive wife in all areas to show me where I was wrong.

It started on a Sunday afternoon when, without any words spoken, I knew I had messed up.  Not life-altering messed up, but I had dished out some consequences without first consulting my husband. He was present, he should have been the one to step in and deal with the situation (and would have if I had asked) but instead I took over and the end result wasn’t peaceful.  There was tension in the air that could’ve been avoided, and deep down I knew I was wrong.

I waited a little while and then when my heart was ready, I apologized.  I truly did want to obey and submit to my husband.  I did.  I knew I needed to surrender this area of control and that was the hard part.  Not because Bill’s unreasonable or a dictator.  He’s one of the most fair people I know.  It had nothing to do with Bill and everything to do with me.

That’s when, on Monday morning, God asked me the question, “You have a choice, Cheri.  You can keep doing things your way or you can make the choice to give up control and do things my way.  Which will it be?”

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However, God doesn’t just ask a question and then walk away.  He reaches out and reinforces His truths.  It wasn’t a coincidence that on that morning three chapters for three different book projects I’m working on were waiting for me in my inbox.  There was a similar theme in each of the chapters – Biblical submission to a godly husband despite the wife wanting a different outcome.  Submitting when she didn’t agree.  Submitting because it was the right thing to do.  Submitting because God instructed her to and because she trusted her husband.  And her Father.  Mostly because she trusted her God.

Right then, I thanked God for the blessing of a godly husband who loves our family so much he is willing to do the hard stuff so that I don’t have to.  I chose then and there, that even though there was still a part of me who wanted to be in control, I was willing to surrender and submit because God knows best.

It wasn’t a few hours later that God showed me how truly loving Biblical submission is. My Father knows that we as wives and mothers have enough on our plate as we are the main emotional thermometers in our households.  He appoints our helpmates, our husbands with the job of carrying the heavy loads so that we can be a support, a partner in prayer, someone with an opinion but who doesn’t have to be responsible for the final outcome.  That is freeing, not restrictive.  Bottom line, I would much rather live a life with my partner, my best friend who loves me, truly loves me and wants the best for me and our family than to be in charge and be alone.

While I had to grieve the death of my will, it took less than the hours in a school day. It could have taken much longer had I fought the choice God gave me, but because I honestly do want to obey God in all areas, I gave up my way and chose to do it His way right away.

Come back tomorrow and I will show you the bigger picture that God revealed to me after He allowed me to choose submission or control.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

 

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